Good morning, Birdland!
There are games where everything clicks for a baseball team. That’s what happened for the Orioles during their 3-0 Opening Day victory against the Red Sox on Friday.
Trey Mancini was the headliner entering the game, and deservedly so. The O’s first baseman was returning to the field following a year-long battle with colon cancer. In his post-game press conference Mancini spoke about how special this game was, even more so than his MLB debut.
But it was John Means that turned heads during the game, twirling seven shutout innings and making the Boston hitters look foolish with a change-up that was at its best. Tanner Scott and Cesar Valdez wrapped things up with two clean innings out of the ‘pen, and the O’s left a chilly Fenway as the victors.
Certainly, it wasn’t all perfect. The O’s went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left six runners on base. Mancini did make a base running mistake, which can be understandable after a year away. And Scott got himself into an eighth-inning jam with two walks. But all is forgiven when it ends with a win.
It is supposed to be sunny and 45 degrees today in Boston by the time game two of this series starts at 1:10 p.m. Perhaps that will spark something of an offensive outburst from these two sides. Matt Harvey and Tanner Houck will try to stop that from happening.
Breaking down Rio Ruiz’s Opening Day star-turn at second base for the Orioles and his chances at keeping the job | The Baltimore Sun
It’s OK to admit you were skeptical of Ruiz playing second base. I know I was, and one game does not completely ease the trepidations of having him at the position. But if the former everyday third baseman can play that kind of defense and maintain the (relatively low) offensive level he produced last season then he is a viable option. That’s a pleasant surprise.
Stat of the Day: Means joins elite company | MLB.com
Means was fantastic on Friday, perhaps turning in the best start of his young career. The thing is, it shouldn’t have been a total surprise for Orioles fans. There have been these kinds of flashes from Means since the start of 2019. His changeup is great, and he has shown an ability to locate all of his offerings. Expecting seven shutout innings every time to the mound is a bit much, but there is every reason to believe he can stick near the top of the O’s rotation for quite a while.
Orioles CEO John Angelos and Baltimore mayor Brandon Scott support MLB decision to move All-Star Game out of Georgia | The Baltimore Sun
The Orioles have deserved criticism for a whole host of reasons in my lifetime. But they have also been champions of worthwhile causes and movements, including the way they handled the players strike in 1994 and the exhibition series with the Cuba National Team in 1999. This story is still developing, and there are sure to be more details to come.
Means, Mountcastle and Mancini make opening day memories | School of Roch
The Killer M’s? The Orioles biggest question mark entering the season is the starting pitching. Even if the rest of the rotation is on fire, an all-star level performance from Means every fifth day would be a huge boost.
Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!
The only former Oriole born on this day is a good one! Koji Uehara turns 46 today. The relief pitcher spent parts of three seasons with the Orioles from 2009 through 2011 before he was dealt to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter. Uehara compiled a 3.03 ERA with the O’s and went on to have a very nice MLB career following an already-impressive stint in his native Japan.
This day in history
1960 - The O’s add catcher Clint Courtney and shortstop Ron Samford in a trade that sends second baseman Billy Gardner to the Washington Senators.
1997 - Brand new Orioles pitcher Jimmy Key improves his all-time record on Opening Day to 7-0. Prior to joining the O’s Key had gone 3-0 with both the Yankees and Blue Jays.
2011 - Zack Britton makes his major league debut for the Orioles, allowing a run on three hits and six strikeouts over six innings. The performance leads the O’s to a 5-1 win and a three-game sweep over the Tampa Bay Rays.